Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reactions to Gov. Cuomo's Education Proposals in 2016 State of the State Speech

Yesterday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State address. Educational proposals include a three-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, $100 million to turn more failing schools into community schools, $27 million for a one-shot-per-pupil boost to charter schools (although no proposals to expand charters), $150 million for tax credits for private and parochial school vouchers, and $10 million in tax credits for teachers who spend more than $200 of their own money on classroom supplies.

Here are some reactions.

Chalkbeat:
The changes [to the Common Core State Standards]  include a temporary ban on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, which marks a reversal from Cuomo’s proposal in last year’s State of the State address to increase the weight of test scores in evaluations. Cuomo did not mention the evaluations on Wednesday, but instead blamed the state education department for a bungled rollout of the standards and assessments, which he suggested had fueled parents’ massive test boycott last year. 
The changes are necessary to restore the public’s faith in the state’s education system, he said.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the city's teachers union:
"We've obviously come a long way". He noted that the governor's speech had "none of the negativity that we've heard in the past years" towards teachers. 
Reaction was mixed to Gov. Cuomo's proposal to dedicate more funding to creating wrap-around services for failing schools (i.e., de Blasio-esque "community schools") instead of more vigorously offering families school options like public charter schools.

Politico:
"The governor recognized that poverty plays a role in education," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in an interview. "It's fantastic that you have a governor saying that. That's not what we've ever heard from Albany before."
"As far as I'm concerned," Mulgrew added, "that was the governor's best State of the State speech yet."
 Karen E. Magee, the president of the state teachers' union: 
"I'm really more pleased to see the shift in the conversation."
Jenny Sedlis, director of StudentsFirstNY, via CapitalNewYork:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have reached a philosophical consensus with Mayor Bill de Blasio on how to improve struggling schools: turn them into "community schools," with wraparound social services. 
Jenny Sedlis, director of StudentsFirstNY, said the community school initiative is just one part of Cuomo's overall strategy on school improvement, while de Blasio has made community schools central to his plan.  
"When it comes to addressing failing schools, Mayor de Blasio has used few of the tools at his disposal, limiting his interventions to his Renewal program that recently lost the support of the city's principals," Sedlis said in a statement. "Governor Cuomo, by contrast, has employed a robust and diverse set of tools to improve failing schools."
And Pedro Noguera of NYU:
But there's a nagging problem about both the governor and mayor's community schools plans: there's scant academic evidence that community schools are a viable school improvement strategy in the first place. 
Cincinnati, with its model community schools, has not seen significantly improved academic outcomes for students. In an interview after de Blasio announced his Renewal program, Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at NYU, put it bluntly: "community schools are not a school improvement strategy."
And lots of people complained about inadequate school funding.

From EdWeek:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday proposed a two-year $2.1 billion increase in school aid that he said would lift New York's education spending to an all-time high of $25 billion. 
But the amount included for the first year, about $991 million, is less than half of what groups including the state Board of Regents and New York State Association of School Business Officials had recommended. 
"The governor's proposed 2016-17 executive budget is a good starting point for negotiations with the Legislature, but is woefully short of the funding that is needed," NYSASBO Executive Director Michael Borges said, noting the state's cap on property taxes would further strain districts.
 New York State School Boards Association:
The theme of Gov. Cuomo's State of the State and budget proposal was "Built to Lead," but perhaps a more fitting description might be "A Work in Progress."
While the governor suggested many laudable programs in our public schools, his funding proposal for enacting those programs falls short.
Increasing funding for struggling schools, expanding prekindergarten programs, enhancing school safety and implementing the recommendations of the Common Core Task Force are all positive and sensible goals that lead us in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the governor's proposed state aid increase is much less than what schools need to maintain current programs and services – especially in the face of a zero percent tax cap – and will leave districts wanting as they attempt to implement these ambitious programs.
Today's proposals represent the first step in a three-month budget process. School boards intend to work with lawmakers throughout that process. Collectively, we can realize these ambitious goals for our students and public schools if the resources are made available.

Assemblyman Charles Barron, a Democrat representing East New York and a former member of the New York City Council, in a scene that the Wall Street Journal called “politically shocking”:
Barron rose from his seat during the governor’s speech and began yelling and pointing at Cuomo, assailing him for not funding schools in accordance with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case.


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